Discover more about your family history

Our extensive range of guides to researching in-depth topics

To help you to learn more about the lives and communities of your ancestors, we hold books and pamphlets on a variety of topics such as:

  • town and village histories will tell you about the place your ancestor lived
  • trade and street directories will help you find the actual house or workplace
  • house history sources will tell you about the property they lived in
  • maps will show you where they were in the county
  • newspapers and periodicals may have stories and articles relating to them
  • oral history recordings may mention them or their occupation
  • photographs may show them or where they lived.

Use our guides and resources to help you to research particular topics or to locate records in other libraries, record offices and institutions.

Resources at the Oxfordshire History Centre

  • Advanced guides to records and research - for example, Mark D. Herber, Ancestral trails : the complete guide to British genealogy and family history (2004).
  • Research in specific counties or countries - for example: Ireland, Australia and the USA.
  • Research into subjects - for example, railways, poor law, emigration, army and navy.
  • Location lists of records - for example, census, electoral rolls, parish registers.
  • Guides to archives and institutions - for example, Society of Genealogists, The National Archives, Guildhall Library.
  • Use of Internet and computers.
  • Local and national family history journals - keep up to date with the latest news in Family Tree magazine and Oxfordshire Family Historian.
  • Dictionaries of forenames and surnames; registers of one-name studies.

Original documents

  • Diocesan records relating to parishioners and Church Court proceedings may show your ancestors' activities in previous centuries.
  • Parish poor law records may contain your ancestors if they were paupers. Find out more (pdf format)
  • Not everyone belonged to the Church of England – if your ancestors were nonconformists there may be something in the records deposited by the different nonconformist sects.
  • Business records may discover your ancestor in the workplace.
  • Organisation records may find your ancestors if they were members.
  • Manorial records may find your ancestor as a tenant of the lord of the manor.
  • Family and personal records may have been handed over relating to your family.
  • Solicitors and estate collections might contain deeds to which your ancestor was a party.

Online catalogue

A personal name index to business, organisation, manorial, family, personal, solicitors and estate records can be viewed in the history centre. From 1991, names can be searched on our online catalogue.

Oxfordshire History Centre enquiry service

The history centre runs an enquiry service to help you with your research. It is also possible to get copies of some material.

Find out if your ancestor went to hospital

The Oxfordshire Health Archives are now based in the Oxfordshire History Centre, though still a separate body. Please read their sources for family history carefully to see if it's worth visiting them.